Nineteen years ago, while still in his twenties, Erwin James was sentenced to life imprisonment. Over the past three years, he has written about prison life for the Guardian. This book brings together these pieces.
In A Life Inside, James writes about learning the who, what, why and when of the prison world. He describes the struggle to keep sane; the dynamics of paranoia and solidarity between men forced into years of co-existence; and the commitment that it takes to prepare for life outside. Along the way, James introduces us to other prisoners. There is Rinty, the big Dundonian and enthusiastic fan of Antiques Roadshow; Cody, the elderly former sergeant who still protests his innocence after twenty-four years; and Felix the Gambler – serial schemer and sometime Buddhist. It is through their stories, told with humour and warmth, the James reveals the reality of prison life.